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Tigre & the Paraná Delta Region
Editor's Note: Jake Biddington reports from South America in this February 2006 installment of The Bentley. (Updated 09/2007)
A Day Trip near Buenos Aires, Argentina
The northerly coastal commuter railway from Buenos Aires' Retiro station disgorges its crowded cars at the Tigre terminus--a portal to the watery world of the Paraná delta where many rivers and shallow streams merge into the vast, brown Rio Plata. Public launches called "collectivos", water taxis and private boats depart from the Estacion Fluvial across from the train station and provide transport up river.
Fifty minutes from downtown Buenos Aires, the understandably disconcerted visitor encounters a world where thoroughfares are waterways, where the general store and the ice cream vendor float to your front pier and where valet parking means handing over the keys to a guy who moors your boat while you dine.
Floating General Store
Working the Houses Lining the Rivers
Since a maze of rivers and canals provide sole access to the houses, beach clubs, hostels and restaurants that make up the delta region, a typical address reads: Rio Sarmiento or Rio Luján or Rio Carapachay. Because of frequent flooding, the houses--some lovely, some eccentric--rest on stilts. In February, river waters lap well up onto lush green lawns where large, pinkish hydrangeas bloom.
A Tigre Stilt House with Water-Swept Lawn
Along these piers, front gardens and artificial beaches, residents and visitors pass their languid days fishing and sunning and watching the river traffic--in contact with the outside world and away from the shade and its enthusiastic mosquito population. They greet friends who arrive by collectivo launches whose competent crews deftly unload passengers, luggage and summer rental paraphernalia in moments as the boat briefly hovers near a private dock.
View from a Collectivo Launch
Providing Transport in the Rio Parana Delta
This wet reality presents an abrupt change from the sophisticated comforts of Buenos Aires and is readily accessible to city dwellers who would seem to possess more urban than wilderness survival skills. As well-dressed Porteños embark with designer camping gear, one wonders how they will fare in their tents and spartan cottages after nightfall. As it turns out, the amenities in a camping complex such as El Ciervo Rojo are many: 8 pesos (less than $3 per day per person) buys an electrical hook-up, a parrilla (grill), hot water showers, volleyball courts as well as games for the kids overseen by a play director.
A Tigre Stilt Cottage
For the day tripper, the delta region offers lounging, sporting and lunching options ranging from a beach shack with kayaks and charcoal grills to pleasantly elegant restaurants. The latter best describes Restaurante Gato Blanco--a good, but pricey, spot at No. 80 Rio Capitán whose management is so organized that the visitor can purchase a combo roundtrip collectivo ticket + restaurant discount at its own Tigre kiosk. Since this is a no-brainer, other tourists find their way there as well.
Private Dock in the Delta RegionAt lunch, the seating at Gato Blanco is as stratified as in a trendy club: regulars arriving via private boats are seated at the prime tables on the deck under the expansive canopies of two ancient river trees. Unescorted travelers and locals arriving via collectivo are placed in the next best zone under the umbrellas along the front deck. This leaves the interior to escorted tour groups where they can be served expeditiously without issues of sun or insects. At dinnertime, the large and lovely screened side veranda saves everyone from becoming--rather than eating--dinner. After a lengthy meal, replete diners walk to the pier and hail a collectivo or call a water taxi for transport back to Tigre.
Many of the local rail travelers crowding the commuter trains from Buenos Aires' northern suburbs to Tigre remain in the town itself where a (somewhat seedy) amusement park called Parque de la Costa draws throngs of kids and a weekend market specializing in dried, dyed river grasses and reeds attracts their parents.
Log-Laden Barge on Rio Luján
with Parque de la Costa Amusement Park
in the Background
To enjoy the more cultural side of the town of Tigre, the visitor must cross the bridge from the train terminal to the west bank of the Rio Tigre. Following Lavalle Street with it snack bars and boat rentals the walkway swings west where it becomes the Paseo Victorica, a lovely English style waterside promenade. Rowing clubs, the Naval Museum, and restaurants line the promenade with its well-tended grasses and wisteria arbors where people relax with a sandwiches and a thermos of mate and watch the water traffic along the Rio Luján.
MAT--Tigre Art MuseumIn October 2006, the restored 1912 mansion formerly known as the Tigre Club reopened as the Art Museum of Tigre (MAT). On display are Argentine figurative paintings dating from the late 19th century through the 20th century by significant artists including: Pellegrini, Victorica, Spilimbergo, Butler, Castagnino and Roux. The municipality of Tigre is justly proud of this gem of a French style building and its collection. A visit there makes a suitable culmination to a stroll along the, very civilized, Paseo Victorica.
Dried reeds & grasses as well as wicker objects are available at the Tigre weekend market.
Tigre How to Get There
Frequent commuter trains serve Tigre from Buenos Aires' downtown Retiro railway station or from platform stops in Las Cañitas and Belgrano. The fare is approximately 1 peso. Buy a ticket upon entering the train station or platform; it will usually be needed to exit.
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ABOUT THIS FEATURE
Here at BIDDINGTON'S, our work is also our play. When we're not exhibiting and discussing art online, we're learning about wonderful objects in shops, at great shows and in museums--or simply exploring the world's fascinating cultural diversity. In this article, Jake Biddington offers tourist information and descriptions of this interesting destination.
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